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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Jena Moreno on the Making of "Stitched"

Cameraman Tom Gandy shooting footage of Caryl Bryer Fallert in her home studio in Paducah, KY.
I mentioned before that I viewed the documentary "Stitched:" at the International Quilt Festival in Cincinnati.  I enjoyed the film so much, that  I purchased it to show to my guild and anyone else I could get to see it.  Even my husband watched it a couple of weeks ago!

Of course, the fact that it followed Hollis Chatelain, who is seen here in her studio in Hillsborough, North Carolina in a still from the movie (provided by Picturesmith Productions) is just the icing on the cake for me.  I really admire Hollis' work both as a quilter and for her raising our consciousness of  problems in the world.

I was curious about a few things about the movie and I contacted Jena (Jenalia) Moreno who was the mastermind behind Stitched and "interviewed" her for this blog post.

Thanks so much for sharing with us, Jena.  I'm sure that if anyone has any other questions, Jena would be happy to comment.  You can see the documentary on June 1 and 2 in Houston  at the Museum of Fine Arts, Brown Auditorium; time: ‎7:00PM Wednesday.  .  Or, you can buy it from Picturesmith Productions .

Randall Cook in his studio in Rochester, NY.  Jenalia Moreno did a 3-minute version of the film focuing on Randall Cook which won second place in the Aurora Picture Shows Extremely shorts film festival in 2010.

What would you like to tell us about yourself?

I'm a native Houstonian and a business reporter at the Houston Chronicle and I now write about airlines. I was the international business reporter for a few years and was based in Mexico City. My husband worked as a freelance photographer while we lived in Mexico. We traveled across most of Latin America. My passions include traveling internationally and I love culture shock.

How did you get the idea to make "Stitched?"

I got the idea to make Stitched in 2005 when I saw all of the quilters filling up the downtown Houston convention center, which I pass twice a day on my way to and from work. This happened just a few months after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the Gulf Coast and as I a reporter I was so focused on the recovery efforts. It seemed like Houston got back to business when this massive convention came to town. I thought quilters would make a great subject of a documentary but life got in the way so we didn't work on the film for another four years.

How did you choose what quilters to follow? Did you have others?

We finally attended the festival in 2009 and we were helped by the IQA staff in identifying quilters who enter their work in the show and sometimes win and those artists who make interesting work. We interviewed about a dozen quilters to see who was good on camera and would allow us to follow them.

I'm sure it is on the credits, who were the traditional quilt guild you featured and how did you find them?

The traditional guilds were the Bayland Quilt Toppers and Sisters in Stitches. Both are in the greater Houston area. One of our volunteer producers is a quilter and doll maker and she belongs to the Bayland group. We met the other group through a quilter we considered following but she didn't want to be followed because she was busy with some other things. But she introduced us to her guild. There was another group of quilters in the Katy area who allowed us to ride in their limo with them to the quilt show in Houston.

How long did it take to film "Stitched?"

We started Stitched in October 2009 and literally got the DVDs back from the DVD company three days before our Cincinnati premiere on April 8.

What was your favorite thing about making the film?

I enjoyed meeting the quilters and learning about their art and I loved that all of them served us great food.

Your least favorite?

My least favorite was working two jobs at the same time. We had to be incredibly disciplined and worked 15-hour days from November through March.

Did you learn anything surprising (or were you surprised at something you learned ) while making the documentary?

I went into this thinking we would make this beautiful little film. Then I realized that filmmaking is not just an art, it's a business. So even though the film is done, I'm still busy with marketing, accounting, planning travel to quilt shows, applying for grants, looking for venues to screen Stitched, etc.

What are your plans for additional outlets?

We have a screening at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston on June 1 and 2 and we're hoping to get into other museums and indie cinemas.

Is this your first film?

This is my first film. We did a short, 3-minute version of Stitched starring Randall Cook.

What other projects are you thinking of next?

I would like to make a short film, maybe 20 to 30 minutes, about the international mariachi festival in Mexico. My dad was a mariachi singer.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

I loved discovering this world of quilters who are so supportive of one another and mentor each other. They have welcomed this film with open arms but also supporting us on fundraising platforms like Kickstarter when the project was just an idea. 


Barbara Douglas said...

Lisa, Thank you for this interview with Jena Moreno. Ms. Moreno's comment about the quilter's filling up downtown Houston shortly after Katrina is poignant. There was an energy that year at International Quilt Market (then International Quilt Festival) that was inspiring. I think that we all felt that we were a small part of the restoration, and healing of an area. It is no wonder that it inspired her to do this film. - Barbara

Sam said...

I was able to view and purchase Stitched in Paducah, Ky during the semi-flooded AQS show. Those of us who were in the first viewing unfortunately were subject to bad sound issues and some went away muttering. I got a chance to speak with Jena and she was understandably distressed over the showing. The work that she poured into the video is incredible and provides an intimate glimpse into the lives of quilters whose work inspires me every day. I am grateful to her for providing the opportunity to share in their work. kt

Michigoose said...

Barbara, thanks for seconding the comment about Katerina! Not having been there, I can't even imagine what it was like.

Sam, how awful! The screening at Cincinnati went though without a awful for Jena. I really laughed at a lot of parts, particularly when Karey Bresenhan gave the statistics on how big (money wise) the industry was and that on an average, every quilter admits to spending $200 per year on quilting supplies....What liars we are! Much more so than fishermen!

Jean M. Judd said...

Thanks for the blog post of your interview with Jena. I purchased the DVD from their web site and just received it this past week. I thought it was wonderfully done and I hope that they are able to find several venues for showing it in a theatre setting.

I hope that Jena continues with her filming career as I think she and her videographer have a very natural talent.

Sherrie Spangler said...

Thanks for posting about the interview -- now I'm going to head to the web site to buy it!

Michigoose said...

A number of peopel have asked about the running time. It's 82 minutes long (so call it an hour and a quarter).

While this may be long for some guilds, I think it's about right..consider that you usually spend time with introductions and a question and answer period, not needed with this.

Thanks for reading and commenting and sending emails. :)